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Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director







HaRav Chaim Shmuel Lopian zt'l
by Betzalel Kahn Special to Yated Ne'eman

On Sunday afternoon, the 10th of Kislev, a pained and saddened throng accompanied HaRav Chaim Shmuel Lopian zt'l , son of the mashgiach, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, ztvk'l, on his last earthly journey.

HaRav Chaim Shmuel, who was ninety years old at the time of his petirah was the rosh kollel of Aliyos Eliyahu -- Tiferes Yitzchok in Yerushalayim, and the author of Ravcho Shmaitso, a commentary on the Shev Shmaitso.

HaRav Chaim Shmuel Lopian was born in the Torah and mussar center of Kelm. As a youth, he studied in the Or Torah yeshiva, whose students his father, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, trained to acquire good character traits, and with fiery words of mussar inspired to grow in ahavas Torah and yiras Shomayim.

As a child, he studied for an entire year in Or Yisroel in Slobodke, under his teacher and mentor, HaRav Yechezkel Burstein, the Divrei Yechezkel. Afterward, he went to study in the yeshiva gedola of Telz, under HaRav Yosef Leib Bloch, HaRav Chaim Rabinowitz and HaRav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch. Regarding himself, HaRav Chaim Shmuel once said: "I used to study 40 consecutive hours, and then sleep for 8 hours, in line with the custom of the Chasam Sofer, who did so in order to fulfill the words of the verse, "Oz yonu'ach li -- Then I shall rest," the gematria of oz being 8, and that of li 40.

In 5689 he arrived in England, where he studied for a while in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva of London, where his father was rosh hayeshiva. In 5696, while in London, he married Lieba, o'h, the daughter of the tzaddik, HaRav Ephraim Tzvi Bloch of Gateshead, son of HaRav Shmaryahu Bloch, gaavad of Sunderland and Birmingham.

In 5699, he published his kuntres, Shmaitso Alef which was graced by the recommendations of the greatest roshei yeshiva of his time: HaRav Shimon Shkop, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, HaRav Boruch Dov Levovitz and HaRav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch.

After his marriage, he and his wife settled in Gateshead. In 5702, HaRav Eliyohu Dessler founded the famous kollel of Gateshead. In the beginning, the kollel functioned in HaRav Chaim Shmuel's home, and it was in this illustrious kollel that he studied until 5708. In the summer of that year, he was appointed to the position of ram in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland, and afterward as ram in the Netzach Yisroel yeshiva in Sunderland, which is near Gateshead.

He spearheaded the founding of all of the Torah institutions in Gateshead. During the years of his residence in that city, he became acquainted with HaRav Naftoli Shakovitzky of Lithuania, who later on officiated as Gateshead's av beis din. His brother-in-law, HaRav Arye Leib Grosnas assembled students from Morocco, and founded a yeshiva gedola and many Torah institutions for them. These students grew up HaRav Chaim Shmuel's home, and he treated them like sons.

In 5739, he went up to Eretz Yisroel, where he assumed the position of rosh kollel of Aliyos Eliyahu -- Tiferes Yitzchok, which was first situated in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood, and later moved to the Unsdorf neighborhood. Its name commemorates his father, the mashgiach HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, as well as HaRav Yitzchok Orlanski whose son, HaRav Yisroel, yibodel lechayim, bore the burden of the support of the kollel along with HaRav Chaim Shmuel. The uniqueness of this kollel lies in its mussar study program.

HaRav Chaim Shmuel studied in this kollel with great diligence until very recently. In the past two years, his strength waned. Nonetheless, he would continue to travel to the kollel every day, with great mesiras nefesh. At home, he also continued to maintain his set study schedules, and his chavrusas would arrive there to study with him despite his great weakness.

He studied Torah under duress, under all circumstances and at all times. He explained his Torah thoughts in a simple, unassuming manner. He participated in all of the simchas in Gateshead and Yerushalayim, taking special care to gladden the hosts of the simcha and those in attendance.

His knowledge of Shas and poskim was astounding, and whenever a question was posed to him, he would respond quickly and with utmost precision. Despite his feeble physical condition, he traveled to the Aliyos Eliyahu -- Tiferes Yitzchok kollel every single day, until this past Tammuz. In recent weeks he grew even weaker, and on Sunday, the 10th of Kislev, he returned his pure soul to its Maker.

His levaya, which proceeded from the Be'er Shmuel synagogue the central synagogue of the Unsdorf neighborhood, was attended by thousands of his students and admirers. Hespedim were delivered by: HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner, the rosh yeshiva of Kaminetz, who had been with him in Switzerland, HaRav Boruch Dov Povarski, one of the roshei yeshiva of Ponovezh; HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the rosh yeshiva of Mir; his sister's son-in-law, HaRav Tzvi Kushelevski , the rosh yeshiva of Heichal HaTorah- - Pressburg; HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, one of the roshei yeshiva of Mir; HaRav Moshe Horowitz, the rav of the Be'er Shmuel synagogue; HaRav Yisroel Orlanski, who bore the burden of the kollel, Aliyos Eliyahu, along with him. The last hesped was delivered by his son-in-law, HaRav Tzvi Kramer.

Toward sunset, he was buried in the cemetery on Har Hazeisim, near the graves of his father, his mother and his wife, as well as those of his grandparents, HaRav Yisroel Dovid Rotman and his wife.

He is survived by his son, HaRav Arye, from the United States, by his daughters, who are married to HaRav Binyomin Tzeilinger of the United States, HaRav Eliyahu Stefanski, HaRav Tzvi Kramer, a ram in the Lakewood yeshiva of Yerushalayim, and HaRav Moshe Shapiro of the United States.


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